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  • If you can't repay your debts in a reasonable time, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) could be the answer to your financial problems.

    An IVA could:

    • Reduce your monthly payments
    • Freeze the interest on your debts
    • Stop any (further) legal action from your lenders
    • Give you a clear date when your unsecured debts will be cleared

    What's more, it could help you stay in your home - whether you're a homeowner or a tenant - as your payments to your IVA would be based on what you can afford after you've accounted for all your essential expenses, from mortgage/rent payments to petrol, food and clothing. However, homeowners may be required to release any equity they have in their property.

     

    What is an IVA?

    An IVA is a form of insolvency, often regarded as a preferable alternative to bankruptcy. It's a legally binding agreement between you and your lenders. Basically, they would agree to all the points listed above if you agree you'll commit to paying as much as you can afford for (in most cases) five years.

    Whether they do agree is decided at a meeting of the creditors (which you won't need to attend). They vote on your proposal, and if 75% (by value of your total unsecured debt) agree, it will be accepted and become binding on all your unsecured lenders.

     

    How can an IVA help?

    An IVA enables you to repay as much of your unsecured debt as possible over an agreed period of time (usually five years). This mainly involves making regular monthly payments. Your monthly payments will be based on what you can afford alongside your other costs, to make sure you don't fall short.

    During an IVA you will be legally protected against any further action from your unsecured lenders. Because it's a legally-binding contract, they won't be able to pursue you any further for your debts, just as long as you stick to the terms of your IVA and keep up with your agreed monthly payments.

    You'll also receive ongoing support from your IP (Insolvency Practitioner) and Relationship Manager, who you can contact if you ever need IVA help. We'll review your circumstances regularly to check that your IVA is still suitable for your circumstances.

    If you start to struggle, your IP may be able to help arrange lower monthly payments. Likewise, if your circumstances improve, you'll be required to start repaying more of what you owe.

    An IVA will also let you stay in your home (although homeowners may need to release some of the equity in their home) - unlike bankruptcy, which often results in repossession for homeowners.

    If you think you need IVA help, all you have to do is call.

     

    How does it work?

    If an IVA looks like the best answer to your debt problems, you'd work with an IP (Insolvency Practitioner) to draw up an IVA Proposal, which shows your lenders how you think the IVA could work: how much you'd pay, how much equity you could free up, and so on.

    If enough of them agree to it, your IVA can start. In most cases, this means you'd spend five years making monthly payments to your IP, who would distribute funds among your lenders as agreed in your IVA Proposal. Keep it up for five years and your outstanding unsecured debts included in the IVA will be written off - and you will be debt-free.

     

    Are there any downsides?

    If you do not keep up with your agreed payments, you could be made bankrupt. However unlike bankruptcy, your IVA wouldn't be published in newspapers, but it would appear in the Insolvency Register for six years, which is publicly available.

    If you're a homeowner, you may have to release some of the equity in your home, although you're very unlikely to have to sell it.

    If your circumstances change and you can't keep up with your payments, your IVA could fail (unless you, your IP and your lenders can agree on some changes that could make it work).

    And if your circumstances improve, you may have to pay more each month.

    Finally, an IVA will affect your credit rating, with records remaining on your credit history for six years.

     

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